California has stringent employment laws that protect employees from discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Many claims about violations of these laws are successfully resolved through mediation. By this method, a neutral third party helps bring the employer and the employee to come to a mutual agreement in a process that is faster, cheaper and less risky than litigation. Mediation can also be used to resolve such claims as unfair employment practices and wrongful termination.
Some of the advantages of mediating an employment-related dispute include:
- Preserving the employment relationship — The employer and employee can discuss solutions in a low-conflict and safe environment free from judgment.
- Addressing inappropriate workplace behavior — Mediation can induce employers to remediate improper conduct in the workplace, even if the claim fails to meet the legal standard for relief.
- Allowing the parties to seek creative solutions — In some cases, there are non-economic solutions that may be more important to the outcome of a case than compensation. For example, mediation can lead to disciplinary actions, employee or supervisor transfers and changes made to an employer’s discrimination policies.
- Giving the employee a chance to tell their side of the story — Since the complainant in an employment discrimination claim can often feel violated, it is essential that they are given a chance to explain what happened from their perspective.
The success of a mediation depends on each side’s commitment to the process. Both parties should create and exchange a comprehensive and chronological memorandum highlighting alleged liability, causation and damages. Documents, evidence and any prior settlement offers should be included. Parties should also make the most of a pre-hearing conference with the mediator by discussing any obstacles they face in reaching a settlement.
Both parties should approach mediation open-mindedly and with realistic expectations. There are many factors that can affect how an employment case is valued. While economic damages can be calculated, non-economic damages for emotional distress and punitive damages can be much more subjective. Each party must be willing to reach a compromise in order for mediation to work.
It’s also vital for the parties to consider non-monetary damages when seeking to resolve an employment dispute through mediation. For instance, a settlement may include an apology letter, a reference letter or reinstatement of a position. There may also be other options, such as employer provision of healthcare, tuition payments or training.
Mediation is a proven cost-effective and expeditious way to resolve employment disputes without litigation. At Quinn & Kronlund LLP, we offer high-quality mediation services throughout California and we also represent parties submitting their cases for mediation. Call 209-943-3950 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Stockton office.